|Messenger photo by Rick Palsgrove|
Workers from ERC (Environmental Remediation Contractor) are restoring the Blacklick Creek channel along the Blacklick Trail multi-use path just north of U.S. Route 33.
Blacklick Creek has gotten a bit out of control in recent years, but a current project through Metro Parks hopes to restore the order.
According to Metro Parks Resource Manager John Watts, a stream bank restoration project is currently under way on Blacklick Creek. The affected area is between the bike path bridge over U.S. Route 33 and Winchester Pike.
Currently, this section of Blacklick Creek has begun to stray from its natural path.
"Over the years, the creek has blown a hole in the retention pond," said Watts, referring to the retention pond at nearby condo community Winchester Cove. "When the creek floods, it leaves debris in their retention pond, and when it comes back, it leaves debris all over our trails," he said. "We spend a lot of time cleaning up over there."
Watts blames the situation on both the urbanization of the area and the nature of the creek itself.
"Blacklick is a very flashy creek," he said. "They get a few inches of rain up in New Albany or Gahanna and we get a flood down here. It flashes and it moves a lot of debris, then it goes down quickly and is back to normal in 24 hours. Then you add to that all the storm sewers and pipes that drain into it."
This project will use in-stream structures and newly-built rock structures to restore the stream to its natural path. Workers also plan to add native trees and natural shrubs to control the flow of the creek.
"We’re trying to keep Blacklick Creek where it’s supposed to be, and keep it functioning within the floodplain," he said.
Watts says without the project, Blacklick Creek would eventually redirect itself entirely.
The problem with Blacklick was initially discovered during an EPA study of Big Walnut Creek a few years ago.
"It’s been an issue for quite a while," he said.
The construction required to remedy the issue is finally taking place because a water quality grant through the EPA is funding 80 percent of the project. The rest of the project is being paid for by Metro Parks, and through a donation of land by the city of Columbus.
The project started in the middle of October, and Watts hopes to have it completed by mid-November.
"We’re trying to take advantage of the very dry conditions we’ve had lately," he said.
Though the project does get close to one of the area’s most popular bike trails, Watts doesn’t expect construction to affect use of the trail.
"We’ve got steel plates down to protect the trail while the work is taking place and there are signs up to warm the bikers,’ he said.
Watts added the steel plates come up every night when work stops.
"We’re hoping for no closures to the trail during the project," he said. "Though there might be temporary closures or traffic control when we’re bringing equipment in and out."